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Rivaled only by the Stan Smith and Superstar, the adidas Samba sits amongst the Three Stripes’ most prolific creations of all-time. And thanks to a series of collaborative efforts as well as countless celebrity sightings, the sneaker has only gotten more popular, with both the high fashion and mainstream crowd having recently fallen back in love with the German footwear brand’s 73-year-old icon.
But before it was seen on the feet of influential tastemakers, the Samba was but adidas’ first football cleat specifically designed to provide traction on frozen ground. Quite a bit has changed over the course of the last seven decades, however, as the silhouette is now more commonly seen along the streets of SoHo as well as the runways of Paris Fashion Week.
The Samba is poised to maintain its momentum well into 2023. And in anticipation for future collaborations and GRs alike, we’re looking back at where everything began.
Rooted in sport much like many of adidas’ icons, the Samba’s legend begins with its inception in 1949. Designed by brand founder Adi Dassler, the earliest iteration of the sneaker — which sat at mid-top height and incorporated a kangaroo leather upper as well as a gum sole — was specifically created to provide traction on icy pitches, allowing athletes to train and play atop frozen ground.
Though initially designed with the harsh, European Winter in mind, the Samba would go on to make a grand introduction at the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. And in an attempt to gain popularity with the South American country, adidas would give the football boot its now canonized name, which draws inspiration from an indigenous Brazilian dance and music genre.
In the decades that followed its above-mentioned debut, the Samba was redesigned several times, inching closer and closer to the version we’re accustomed to today. And in parallel to these changes, the shoe was rapidly transitioning away from the pitch, becoming a favorite amongst players of indoor football.
In the ’90s, skateboarders, too, adopted the indoor staple as one of their own, with many favoring its durability and traction. The sneaker’s popularity would eventually incite adidas to create the Busentiz, a skate-geared offshoot that draws clear design cues from the Samba.
Though still a regular sight on indoor football courts as well as at the skate park, the Samba today leans much closer to the world of fashion. This is thanks to numerous collaborative offerings, which have borrowed the expertise of burgeoning designers such as Wales Bonner. IRAK, Jonah Hill, Have A Good Time, and many other brands and talents have also reimagined the silhouette over the years — and soon, Pharrell, too, will be added to the list.
From the icy pitch to the runway, the Samba is a cultural triumph. Even over seven decades later, it continues to make waves, trending heavily across much of social media. And not only is the sneaker one of adidas’ best sellers, it’s also one their longest-running model in production, which speaks volumes to its everlasting influence.
After being sighted on Bella Hadid, the adidas Samba Vegan helmed the silhouette’s meteoric resurgence, with sizes — smaller ones especially — subsequently selling out with haste. But while it may be difficult to obtain this model in particular, there are still several readily available options from the Samba Classic as well as the Samba OG. A collaborative colorway with Arsenal is also on the shelves right now for dedicated fans of the football club.
If you’re looking to close out the year with one of the defining sneakers of 2022, head over to adidas.com where you can shop all the available styles right now.
FROM FOOTBALL TO FASHION
FROM FOOTBALL TO FASHION
Sneaker culture has changed drastically in the last seven decades, with styles worlds away from the mainstream now receiving as much love and attention as that of the rarest collaborative releases. Offerings such as the Salomon XT-6, the New Balance 550, and, of course, the Samba have usurped the throne of the most popular, most ubiquitous footwear on the market, and all three have become a regular sight on those in, around, and outside of the fashion industry.
It’s here where much of the Samba trend has burgeoned, as designers — again, Wales Bonner comes to mind — have helped catapult the status of the adidas icon, turning it from a piece of kit into an elevated symbol of fashion. Celebrities (actors, influencers, and otherwise) are responsible for the sneaker’s rise in popularity through the years as well, as many have either received collaborations of their own or have integrated the Three Stripes staple into their everyday wardrobe.
For example, Jerry Lorenzo — following the announcement of his partnership with adidas — reminisced on his high school days in South Florida, during which he regularly wore a set of Sambas. But even well before dressing the Fear of God founder, the sneaker conjured to mind images of Bob Marley, who donned pairs on countless occasions. Beyoncé, too, is as much a fan, paying obvious tribute by way of the Super Sleek released under the IVY PARK umbrella.
In 2022, the Samba has further broken into the culture zeitgeist, all the while helping dismantle the notion that only rare, unattainable releases are of value. And while impossible to predict where the sneaker might end up in the next seven decades, one thing is assured: the Samba will forever be an icon.